In the days that have followed last week’s historic election, JobsFirstNYC has spoken with the field about what this outcome means for the national workforce and training system, and what opportunities and challenges a Trump presidency presents. In one of our most intense and polarizing elections, we are at a highly uncertain crossroads.
Creating and sustaining a qualified national workforce that effectively meets both supply and demand is not a Democrat or Republican issue, it is one that affects every citizen. While federal spending for workforce has been on a steep disinvestment curve for many years, this new administration will present an important opportunity to examine the question of our national work-preparedness and competitiveness. Voter results in this election also demonstrate that many Americans believe that the workforce system is simply unable to propel them on a path to economic security. One major element in ensuring the workforce system’s effectiveness is the thoughtful inclusion of employers, which is also central to the mission of JobsFirstNYC and organizations like ours.
Early thinking from our national policy colleagues suggests that the new Administration’s likely focus will be on expanding the quantity and quality of middle-skills jobs, implementing a broad economic stimulus with refinements in trade policy and business deregulation, and addressing our country’s infrastructure. These are all issues around which our field can and should develop a unified policy and action agenda. Creating more intentional training opportunities for domestic manufacturing and infrastructure-related jobs is a specific example of where our priorities could potentially align with that of the new administration.
However, one thing must be made and kept explicit in our movement forward: there can be no space in the national workforce and training agenda for ableism, bigotry, homophobia, sexism, and xenophobia, all of which were keenly manifested in the rhetoric of this election cycle throughout the past several months.
JobsFirstNYC will never have a neutral position on these issues, because of the young people we are called by our mission to serve. Many young Americans are very concerned about the outcome and consequences of this election. For young immigrants, young men and women of color, young people impacted by the juvenile and criminal justice systems, young people who identify as LGBTQ, and young people with hidden or visible disabilities, we must affirm our commitment to their equitable treatment in our society through both our words and our actions.
In the weeks and months ahead, it is critical to have a more inclusive strategic discussion among our national leadership about how to ensure that many of our recent gains notably those focused on equity and social and economic justice, are preserved so that all young Americans can fully engage in our country’s future.
While we need to carefully reflect on our political circumstances and how the world is responding to them, we also need to forge ahead with an aligned advocacy effort in order to build an economy that is inclusive of all of America’s young people.Central to this effort will be a focus on supporting and investing in young leaders as change ambassadors and systems advocates, and you will be hearing more from us in the coming months about how we will put that plan into action.In the weeks and months ahead, we have much to do and we need your support:
1. Stay engaged in the discussion. We need a full range of conversations about policies and practices that can ensure all Americans have a place in our country’s economic future. Join us to be an active part of the conversation that involves open, constructive debate.
2. Join in the effort. Volunteer your time and/or donate resources to any cause that will advance opportunities for young people. Support businesses and institutions committed to affording such opportunities.
3. Plan and organize. As we build on our advocacy for effective and inclusive economic policies, join us and other organizations at the forefront of this effort to ensure that such policies are a core focus of the new administration. We welcome and need your input and involvement as we collectively proceed, and we re-affirm our absolute commitment and resolve to ensure that every young person has the opportunity to fully participate in and benefit from the economic life of our great City and our great country.
The JobsFirstNYC Board of Directors and Staff